Business of Joint Committee

Apologies have been received from the Chairman, Deputy Fleming, and Deputies Fitzpatrick and Christy O'Sullivan, and Senator Hannigan.

The draft minutes of the meeting of 28 July 2010 have been circulated. Are the minutes agreed? Agreed.

The next item on our agenda is correspondence received by the joint committee and circulated since the last meeting. The first two items of correspondence have been held over from earlier meetings. There is a request for a meeting to discuss a producer responsibility initiative for the disposal of tyres. We have received briefing on this subject from the Department so we can discuss it with item No. 2010/980 later on.

Held over from an earlier meeting is a departmental briefing on the pyrite issue, a matter raised by Deputy Terence Flanagan. We will hold that.

No. 2010/951 (2), (3), (4), (5) and (6) relates to Globe-Net and various notifications regarding environmental matters. We note that.

We received a letter thanking the committee for meeting the Australian delegation led by the President of the Australian Senate on 29 June. We note that.

We have received a letter of support from property insurance members for the committee's fourth report on severe weather and, in particular, support for a public inquiry into the Cork flooding and expenditure on flood relief. We will note that.

On that matter, have we not invited the Minister to appear before the committee? Is there any indication as to when he will come to discuss the report we launched earlier this year?

We invited him, but he declined.

Why has he declined? It is very unbecoming for a Minister to do so. It is his duty to appear before the committee. He promised much after the severe flooding in the Shannon catchment area affecting Longford, Westmeath, Roscommon and other counties in the midlands where Senator Glynn and I live.

This correspondence relates to the Cork flooding.

We met representatives of all the bodies.

If members so wish we can renew our invitation to the Minister and say we were not happy with his reply.

We should renew our invitation as quickly as possible.

Is that agreed?

I wish to add to that. I welcome the letter from the property insurance members, which welcomes specifically the recommendation for a public inquiry over the flooding in Cork. However, like Deputy Bannon I am very disappointed with the Minister's response. The clerk to the committee circulated a copy of the letter declining the invitation. A member of the Minister's office notified the committee that the Minister would not attend. The Minister did not even respond directly to the committee following the invitation. I am at a complete loss as to why the Minister has declined the invitation given that several of the report's recommendations specifically refer to his Department. I suggest the committee should convey its disappointment that the Minister could not pin down a date to meet us. We should reissue the invitation as a matter of urgency. We are approaching the first anniversary of the floods on 19 November 2009. It would be appalling if we passed that anniversary without the Minister coming before the committee to discuss the report.

Senator Glynn and I are invited to a meeting in Clondra tonight. Some 15 farming organisations across the midlands are very concerned because the water levels have risen on the River Shannon and its tributaries. They are fearful of what might happen again. Some people in the midlands are finding it very difficult to get insurance for their properties and are living in great fear.

That applies in Galway, Cork and elsewhere.

It is a major disappointment that the Minister has not agreed to meet us to discuss the report.

Do members agree that we express that disappointment in a letter requesting him to appear before the committee? Agreed.

No. 2010/954 relates to the invitation to the ICLEI 20th Anniversary Congress on the Future of Cities to be held in Korea from 5-7 October 2010. As the time scale for making arrangements is very short, I suggest it is impractical to consider attending the congress. Is that agreed? Agreed.

The next matter on the agenda is Mr. McNamara's apology to Mr. Stephen Faughnan of the IPOA, which was sent by e-mail. The apology relates to a letter dated 2 July 2009 that was sent to the committee. We will note that. In addition, we have received further correspondence in relation to the IPOA. We have been sent a letter and appendices informing us that this matter has been dealt with by way of apology and damages in favour of the IPOA. We will note that.

The next correspondence is an e-mail notification of the 97th annual conference of the AMAI, which took place between 9 and 11 September last in Buncrana, County Donegal. We will note that.

The committee has received a reply to its queries regarding the financial ability of local authorities to implement the water services investment programme 2010-12. We will note that. Further replies are awaited.

Hard copies of the 2009 annual report and accounts of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority have been circulated to members. We will note the report and accounts. Perhaps members would like to discuss them at a future meeting.

The committee has received the 62nd annual report of An Chomhairle Leabharlanna. Hard copies of the Library Council report, which pertains to 2009, have been circulated to members. We will note the report. In addition, the first annual report on the public lending remuneration scheme, which was prepared by public lending remuneration section of An Chomhairle Leabharlanna and relates to 2009, has been circulated. We will note that.

The next correspondence relates to the suggestion that hotels and guesthouses cannot afford to pay the local authority rates that are payable by them. We will deal with this subject later in today's meeting.

A copy ofInBusiness magazine, which is published by Chambers Ireland, is available from the committee secretariat. We will note that.

On the issue of payments to turf cutters affected by the cessation of activity on designated raised bogs, we have received a response to our request for a "softly, softly" approach to the cessation of turf cutting on such bogs. We will deal with the matter when we reach further correspondence on it.

As part of the formulation of a strategy statement for An Bord Pleanála, we have been asked to respond to the request for observations and feedback on the role, performance and service of the board by 24 September 2010. It should be noted that members should respond directly to the board.

We have received a request for access to copies of the presentations made to the committee prior to the compilation of the severe weather report. The request relates to the documentation submitted by the ESB, and so on, when the committee examined the severe weather events of last winter. Is it agreed to release the documentation, but also to inform those who made the presentations as a courtesy? Agreed.

A great deal of work was involved in the compilation of the flooding report published by the Oireachtas committee. I do not see any evidence that the recommendations made in the report are being implemented.

Before the Deputy arrived, it was agreed to send a further invitation to the Minister. He declined our first invitation. We have agreed to express our strong disappointment on that and to invite him again to come here to answer questions.

What can we do to make sure the recommendations, some of which would not cost the OPW very much money, are implemented before we encounter difficulties this winter?

The Deputy is not optimistic.

I am always pessimistic about the weather in Ireland. We should invite representatives of the OPW to address the committee on the remedial works the OPW has undertaken in the River Shannon area, in particular. If we invite the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to come here, we should also write to the OPW to seek an updated report from the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, and his officials on what they have done since the publication of the severe weather report.

Is it agreed to send an invitation to the OPW as well as the Minister? Agreed.

The IFA will meet tonight. I suggest that a representative of the IFA should be at our meeting. I suggest that we invite Mr. Michael Silke to attend the meeting.

I suppose the IFA could select its own attendee. I agree that it should be invited to send a representative.

We should concentrate on those who are responsible.

Many parties contributed to the publication of the report, which is now a matter for this House. The Minister and the Minister of State are responsible for its enactment. The committee should focus on getting them to enact the recommendations.

We should not be concerned with introducing external parties to the debate.

Is it agreed to invite the Minister and the OPW to attend a meeting of the committee? Agreed.

The joint committee has also received a reply to its query regarding section 5 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010, which relates to the issue of access from a private road to a public road. We have been informed that the Department cannot allow people to create access on to public roads without planning consent. We will note that.

The committee has received notification of training seminars for elected representatives. A seminar on the issue of planning applications and professional indemnity will take place in Galway from 24 to 26 September next. We will note that. A company in Glann, Oughterard, County Galway, has notified the committee of a training seminar on the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010, which will take place in Roscommon from 15 to 17 October next. We will note that.

This committee should be represented at such important seminars.

Does the Senator want to go to the seminar in Galway or the seminar in Roscommon? They are quite similar.

The seminars are important for local authority members. This committee is normally represented at such seminars.

Fine. We will deal with all the seminars before members decide where they want to go. There is a further seminar in Maynooth from 22 to 24 October. It relates to the need for Ireland to compete with the rest of Europe in the area of alternative energy. Details of these seminars have been circulated by e-mail. What do members want to do?

We should be represented at the LAMA seminar. It is up to other members to make up their own minds.

Where is that? The seminars in question are taking place in Galway, Roscommon and Maynooth.

Where will the LAMA seminar take place?

None of the notifications we have received specified anything about LAMA.

I thought it was there.

I think the seminar in question will take place in Listowel.

Esperanza Enterprises of Glann, Oughterard, County Galway is organising the seminars in Roscommon and Maynooth. Ashford Building Services of Oughterard, County Galway is organising the seminar in Galway. I do not know if it is the same group.

Does the seminar in Maynooth relate to alternative energy?

Yes. It will take place between 22 and 24 October.

What days of the week are involved? I do not have my diary with me.

I do not know what days of the week are involved.

It does not matter. I can communicate with the clerk. I would not mind going to a seminar on alternative energy, which is very important. I do not know how other members of the committee feel on the matter. The dates might not suit me, but I would certainly like to go.

Does the Deputy refer to the seminar in Maynooth?

Are other members interested in attending?

I would love to go to a seminar on alternative energy. It may not suit me, however. I will have to find out what days it is on.

We will send Deputy Brady.

He has volunteered to go to the conference in Maynooth between 22 and 24 October next.

When will the seminar in Roscommon take place?

It will take place between 15 and 17 October next.

What is the theme of that seminar?

The seminar in question, which is being organised by Esperanza Enterprises of Glann, Oughterard, County Galway, will relate to the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010.

That could be useful. We should be represented at it.

Do we have any volunteers?

It is possible that I would be interested in that area.

I am interested in it as well.

All right. We have two Senators for Roscommon and a Deputy for Maynooth. We have also received a further notification of an training seminar for elected representatives on the Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Bill 2010. The seminar, which is also being organised by Esperanza Enterprises of Glann, Oughterard, County Galway, will take place in Galway between 29 and 31 October next. I might call to one of the seminars in Galway if I am available.

I have taken note of the interest of members.

The joint committee has received an e-mail on the current position with regard to the review of last winter's severe weather events. It should be noted that the Minister, Deputy Gormley, declined to meet the committee to discuss the report. It is similar to the flooding report.

We should express our disappointment in that regard as well.

We will do that.

The next correspondence is a letter that has been received in response to the committee's representations on behalf of the Canine Breeders of Ireland with regard to the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010. We will note that. No. 2010/973 is the report of the Limerick local government committee, entitled Renewing Local Government in Limerick. We note that. No. 2010/974 relates to a suggested meeting with Dublin City Council re proposed incinerator at Poolbeg. The suggestion is that the committee would invite Dublin City Council to clarify issues in regard to the Covanta contract. Is it agreed that we will consider that for future meeting with the agreement of members? Agreed.

No. 2010/975 relates to EirGrid's east-west interconnector. There has been a request that the committee would receive a delegation from Rush community council. It is primarily a matter for the Joint Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

No. 2010/976 relates to skip hire and waste management. There have been reports of skip hire companies operating outside the relevant legislation and a request has been made seeking enforcement of that legislation. We will ask the clerk to request material from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

No. 2010/977 relates to the Asia-Europe parliamentary partnership meeting. It is an invitation to attend the sixth Asia-Europe parliamentary partnership meeting in Brussels. The maximum delegation is four per country, two from each Chamber. We note that.

No. 2010/978 relates to opposition to designation of Mayo lakes as special protection areas for birds. The letter sets out the basis and requirements for designation as a special protection area. We will instruct the clerk to write to Mayo County Council setting out our position. The alternative is to hold the matter over for a future meeting. What do members think?

I propose that we should get the information from Mayo.

The clerk will write to Mayo County Council setting out our position.

What is our position?

If we move on to the next matter we might find out. It is a letter from P.S. to the Secretary General of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. It sets out the basis and requirements for the designation of special protection areas. We will write to Mayo County Council setting out the position. That is all we can do.

That information is already in the hands of Mayo County Council from the Department. What are we doing that for?

We have to deal with the correspondence we have received from Mayo County Council. I suggest the clerk writes to Mayo County Council setting out the position.

No. 2020/978(1) is briefing material relating to Mayo lakes. It is detailed briefing material on the designation of Lough Carra, Lough Mask, Lough Conn and Lough Cullin as special protection areas. As with the previous matter the clerk will set out the position.

A lot of directives are being implemented in special areas of conservation. Natural heritage areas are being introduced in the State without much debate or the knowledge of local people or stakeholders about the consequences of the designations. It would be appropriate if we had the national parks and wildlife service and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government before the committee to indicate the likely pattern of further designations in addition to the ones outlined by the Vice Chairman and for them to justify the designations already made and the context of the implementation of the habitats directive.

I support that. Regulations have been introduced affecting coastal areas that will have a consequential impact on commercial activities such as mussel farming. I refer, for example to Dungarvan Bay. I would be interested in hearing the views of the Department and the national parks and wildlife service to open the debate on the issue. That would be important.

Is it agreed that we will invite the national parks and wildlife service and the Minister before the committee? Agreed. Who does Deputy Hogan wish to invite?

Someone from the national parks and wildlife service, and I would like the Minister and his officials to attend as well.

Is that agreed? Does Deputy Hogan mean for the next meeting?

Whenever it is convenient.

Have these areas been designated?

The briefing note appears to indicate that they have been designated. Reference is made to detailed briefing materials on Lough Carra, Lough Mask, Lough Conn and Lough Cullin as special areas of conservation. The areas are proposed for designation.

No. 2010/979 is briefing material on bio-waste management. It is a detailed briefing on European Commission document COM (2010) 235 which places increased emphasis on waste prevention and recycling. Do members have views on that?

To go back to the previous point, if areas have been proposed for designation, we need to have these people in soon to discuss the designations. Otherwise, the designations will be made before we have an opportunity to discuss the matter. People in those areas want to know the implications of the designations such as how they will affect landowners adjoining the lakes and farms. We need to know how the issue will be dealt with. Have people been notified?

We could deal with that when the wildlife section of the Office of Public Works and the Minister appear before the committee. We will have to deal directly with the issue. Members will have much to say on the matter. I hope I am not in the Chair because I will have a few things to say about it myself.

That would need to be done soon rather than putting it on the long finger.

We can rely on the Vice Chairman's good offices today to ensure it happens soon.

Okay. No. 2010/979 is briefing material on bio-waste management. It is a detailed briefing on European Commission document COM (2010) 235 which places increased emphasis on waste prevention and recycling. Do members have views on this communication from the Commission? Is it agreed that the clerk would forward the briefing material to the Joint Committee on European Affairs?

There is much confusion in the public domain due to the lack of a national waste management plan. We are getting mixed messages on existing and proposed Government policy on dealing with waste streams. The incinerator in Poolbeg is part of that but there are wider implications for the regions. Each region has its own waste management plan and its own objective of providing solutions for the waste collected there, but they are at a loss because they are not getting any direction from Government due to the confusion on policy at the top. The Chairman referred to the bio-waste streams. Clarity is required in terms of a national waste management strategy. I accept the issue is controversial but we must deal with it and give clarity because there are local authorities, regional authorities and the private sector and much confusion exists which is not improving matters. We need clear direction from the Minister and the Department. Perhaps some time soon an opportunity could be provided to question departmental officials to see where they are at and what they are doing.

What do the members wish to do? Do they wish to pass on the matter to the Joint Committee on European Affairs?

What the Senator is looking for is clarity. Eight regions were set up 15 years ago to deal with waste management. Expensive reports were prepared at that time. None of those reports has been acted upon because the Department has not given a direction on where we go from here. Senator Coffey is looking for a clear direction from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on the issue. All local authorities co-operated at that time. They made submissions for the various reports prepared by the regional authorities. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government set up the regional authorities. At that time the midland region comprised Longford, Westmeath, Laois, Offaly and north Tipperary. There were eight regions in the country. The reports were made but no action has been taken since then.

I suggest the committee write to the Minister asking for clarification on the matter. We should also write to the lead authorities in the regions that are responsible for the waste management plans. Deputy Bannon is correct; the reports have neither been acted upon nor decommissioned. They are just sitting there. The reports were prepared at great expense and much consultation has taken place at local authority level but nothing has happened because they are waiting for a signal in the form of a national strategy. I would like to hear the views of the Minister and others involved. Perhaps the Vice Chairman would write to them and then we can decide in the future what we would like to do about it.

Is it agreed that we respond regarding the waste management briefing material? Agreed. No. 2010/980 concerns detailed briefing material on the management of waste tyres, including recycling, rethreading, reusing and recovery as a fuel. It is proposed that we invite the Irish Tyre Industry Association to our next meeting. Is that agreed? Agreed. We will have a full meeting.

It is a very important subject and we should not sacrifice accuracy for speed. It is a stand-alone issue and has correctly attracted much media attention. We should treat tyre disposal with the importance it deserves.

We will invite the Irish Tyre Industry Association to our next meeting. We have received an invitation to a conference in Freiburg on local renewables. It concerns the integration of renewable energy to implement sustainable urban mobility plans. Is that noted? Noted.

With regard to the cessation of turf cutting on designated raised bogs, board members of the west regional authority have requested a meeting with the committee. The committee has previously met the IFA, the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association and the Creggan-Crosswood turbary group. What will we do in respect of the west regional authority? It is a statutory body, or at least a semi-statutory body.

We had deliberations on this previously, of which it could be given a copy.

The authority is separate from the lobby groups. Perhaps we should accept its request.

We have met all the stakeholders.

The authority has requested a meeting. I would be inclined to meet it.

I agree with that.

We will meet the group at a suitable time. Is that agreed? Agreed.

We have received documentation on many statutory instruments that I am obliged to read out. The statutory instruments are: SI 293/2010 — European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) (Control of Recreational Activities) Regulations 2010; SI 383/2010 — European Communities (Conservation of Wild Birds (Ballyteigue Burrow Special Protection Area) Regulations 2010——

They are all interlinked. It seems from what is before us today that the Minister, Deputy Gormley, intends to close down rural Ireland.

The Deputy has not seen half of them yet.

Regulation after regulation is coming in. We have seen what the Minister has done thus far. He will completely close down rural Ireland if he is allowed to continue.

We will have a chance to talk to him if he agrees to meet us.

He refuses to meet us.

We will see. We are renewing our request to him.

He has treated this committee shabbily to date.

The remaining statutory instruments are SI 384/2010 — European Communities (Conservation of Wild Birds (Dovegrove Callows Special Protection Area 004137)) Regulations 2010; SI 385/2010 — European Communities (Conservation of Wild Birds (Kerry Head Special Protection Area 004189)) Regulations 2010; SI 386/2010 — European Communities (Conservation of Wild Birds (Kilcolman Bog Special Protection Area 004095)) Regulations 2010; SI 387/2010 — European Communities (Conservation of Wild Birds (Sheep's Head to Toe Head Special Protection Area 004156)) Regulations 2010; SI 388/2010 — European Communities (Conservation of Wild Birds (Sheskinmore Lough Special Protection Area 004090)) Regulations 2010; SI 389/2010 — European Communities (Conservation of Wild Birds (West Donegal Coast Special Protection Area 004150)) Regulations 2010; and SI 405/2010 — Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 (Commencement) Order 2010. As Deputy Bannon suggested, new regulations are coming in every day. New regulations relating to planning would be of interest to members.

The date of 19 August 2010 is appointed as the day on which the following provisions of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 come into operation: sections 1 to 4, inclusive, and sections 26, 28, 29, 37, 42, 46, 53 to 56, inclusive, 58, 64, 66, 68, 70, 71, 73 and 81. The legislation has been passed.

I know that but 90 ministerial amendments were taken without debate on which we have had occasion to object here. There was no apology from anyone and no effort was made to help us with the information. There is an enormous amount of activity associated with planning and development in this country that is associated with the 90 sections that were never debated.

That is correct.

In spite of our best efforts to obtain explanations of the sections with regard to their implementation, we have received none. We might have received them in another capacity but not as members of this committee. An explanatory memorandum is required to take account of the 90 sections that were not debated. They effectively deal with quarries, the habitats directive and the implementation of the regulations to which the Chairman referred. These have never been discussed by the Oireachtas.

I agree with Deputy Hogan. The legislation was rushed through the Dáil earlier this year and last year. The amendments that were tabled by Fine Gael and the Government parties themselves were never debated in the Chamber.

Are we in a position to change what has been adopted as the Act? I encountered a case today in which I learned that hitherto exempted farm buildings, that is, those up to 200 sq. m, are now to require planning permission if they are adjacent to a special area of conservation or a national heritage area.

I propose that we ask the Department to send us an explanatory note on each section of the Act. At least we will then be able to inform people on the implications.

That is sensible.

With regard to Deputy Hogan's proposal, on the day on which the legislation was being debated, the Tánaiste publicly apologised for the way in which it was being managed in the Dáil. Deputy Hogan is correct that more than 50% of the legislation was introduced by way of late amendments, some of which introduced entirely new sections. There is a requirement for an explanatory memorandum to be drawn up and presented to reflect what was effectively a new Bill that was passed in the House as opposed to the one introduced initially.

There are 22 sections in question. We will seek an explanatory memorandum. Is that agreed? Agreed.

The next statutory instruments are SI 382/2010 — European Communities (Establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE)) Regulations 2010 and SI 368/2010 — Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) Order 2010. All the statutory instruments are sent to members by e-mail.

We have received a number of circulars: PHS 03/2010 of 29 July 2010 on private rented accommodation functions and payment of funding for 2010; a circular of 28 July on the bathing water quality regulations 2008, SI 79 of 2008, from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; and SHIP 2010/16 of 3 August on demand for social housing support and vacant units issued by social housing division of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

I would appreciate a copy of that if the secretary has it to hand.

This is an important circular which should be noted by the committee, as its implications may need to be revisited. It seems to be a massive shift in policy by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to instruct local authorities not to build any more social housing. Instead, it is asking them to consider all options in taking over privately built houses and entering them into the various schemes implemented by it. It also wants them to engage with the voluntary housing associations. From the date of the circular, they are asked not to build their own housing stock. While that may be fine in urban areas in which there might be an excess of housing stock, I am aware of problems in rural areas. People may have lived in substandard housing conditions on a half acre or an acre of land. Heretofore, the local authority may have built on this land to house the person or family concerned. With this new circular, there will be no provision to assist people in such circumstances. The committee will need to revisit this issue. This shift in policy will change the shape of social housing as we know it.

What do members propose to do about the circular?

The rural cottage scheme was popular. They are trying to shove rural people into urban areas which is very unfair, as it is not their environment. It is appropriate to seek some changes in this regard. If the committee has to bring in departmental officials or whoever, it should do so.

Members will have received the circular by e-mail. They should study its implications.

Members received 63 circulars for this meeting. As it is two months since we last met, there has to be some period to digest all the information. I propose that this circular be held over until our next meeting next week.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

The following circulars were also circulated: PHS 02/2010 of 22 July on Housing (Rent Books) (Amendment) Regulations 2010, issued by the private rented sector and building standards section; WP 19/10 of 23 July 2010, management of waste from the extractive industries; PSSP 4 2010, development plans and the determination of national plans, policies and strategies to be of relevance to proper planning and sustainable development; AQ1/10, bituminous fuel ban and the solid fuel carbon tax; MT 4/2010 of 10 August 2010, taxation of goods vehicles and adapted goods vehicles.

This has caused a great deal of public anger among those who have lost their jobs whom the Minister is now forcing to buy alternative modes of transport. All of us received representations during the summer concerning this circular sent by the Minister's private secretary, Ms Deirdre Fanning. People who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own will be forced to sell their 4x4 and buy a car instead, even though they might have it registered and insured as a commercial vehicle. The new tax regime will increase the VRT on these vehicles from €280 to €1,000. This is wrong and unfair on people who have lost their jobs at a time when the economy has experienced a serious downturn. It was a little high-handed and far-fetched on the part of the Minister to introduce this new regulation during the summer. He is putting an extra burden on those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

We are going into too much detail on matters of correspondence. I acknowledge Deputy Ciarán Lynch's point that the committee has not met for some time, but it is also unfair on the deputation which has come to make a presentation today. Is it possible to note the correspondence and not get into a debate on it?

It is unfair on the Chair, as I am trying to get through the agenda as quickly as I can.

Is there a better system? Members should receive the correspondence and then raise any matters they might wish to raise.

I am only sitting in for the Chairman. Up until now the precedent has been for the Chairman to bring all correspondence and circulars to the attention of the committee. I did not want to change that being here for only one day.

No, but we must examine the system for the future. I agree with Deputy Tuffy that it is very unfair on delegations attending the committee. I have another delegation to meet in a few minutes and we have not even got the delegation due to meet this committee to the table.

I do not think I have held up the meeting.

In all fairness, it is the system being used. Perhaps the problem is there is so much correspondence to this committee compared to others.

It is also because of the length of time since our last meeting. I was going to make that point when we got to the end of the correspondence.

Sorry about that.

I have sympathy for the delegation that has had to wait through our discussions about correspondence and circulars. However, this is important information for committee members. We are here to scrutinise and I see no reason the meeting should not have commenced at 2.30 p.m. rather than 3.30 p.m. to deal with correspondence.

Good point.

The following circulars were also received by the committee: WP 23.10, EWC codes on waste collection permits; LG (P) 09/10, FÁS work placement programme; SHIP 2010/17, housing action plan and meetings with housing authorities; SHIP 2010/18, arrangements for implementation of the land aggregation scheme.

On a general note, the committee has incurred significant expenditure to date this year on travel. The Chairman of the working group of committee Chairmen has indicated that only travel which is absolutely essential to the work of the committee will be sanctioned from now on. We did not hear this before we did our business.